A Message from the Seventh Congress of Asian Theologians
We Asian Theologians-24 women and 46 men-gathered together for the 7th Congress of Asian Theologians (Seoul, Korea, July 1-5, 2012) under the theme "Embracing and Embodying God's Hospitality Today" would like to convey the following message to the sisters and brothers in Christ, particularly in Asia, but also beyond, especially in view of the forthcoming WCC General Assembly next year in Busan, Korea with the theme "God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace."
our belief that God is the ultimate host of the whole creation, and we are the recipients and agents of God's hospitality through Jesus Christ, churches, religions and creation.
We also affirm
that our hospitality is simply an overflowing of God's abundant hospitality and our
joyful and thankful response to it.
We speak of hospitality in a theological and moral sense, which does not assume any
return or profit, and not in a commercialized and commodified sense.
that we Christians in the past-and at times even at the present-have harbored an
attitude of superiority to others and have often been lacking in giving due recognition to them, even in providing hospitality, unilaterally playing the role of host.
This is particularly a painful memory in Asia where most of the churches were brought
by the Western missions which often coincided with colonial projects.
that we first learn to recognize and embrace God's hospitality through Jesus Christ, churches, religions and creation;
and second, commit ourselves to embody God's hospitality in churches, between
churches, among religions and in the midst of creation.
We are aware that this may entail a prophetic role to challenge an unjust host, in
seeking to provide just and true hospitality, especially to the marginalized.
Through the discussions during the Congress, we have also come to propose the following recommendations that have emerged.
Migration and Multi-Cultural Society
· In the context of migration within and from Asian countries and its by-products of victims of exploitation and violence, it is imperative that Asian Christians take deliberate prophetic role to advocate for justice and human dignity of all individuals.
· Asian Christians need to acknowledge the injustices against aboriginals and indigenous peoples in their own native lands and to embrace and embody the wisdom and experiences that indigenous peoples offer to the well-being of the community.
· Asian societies and churches should embrace the multicultural realities in their lands as a God-given opportunity for hospitality and mutual transformation in congregations, workplaces and the whole community. Hospitality from the perspective of multiculturalism is not just about culture, but a way of defining what it means to be a human being.
· We call upon the Asian churches to manifest mutual hospitality toward one another by moving beyond our doctrinal differences and the practice of competitive proselytizing for the sake of better intercommunion and effective witness in the discordant world.
· We call upon the churches to implement programs of education that include the theme of Christian unity in all levels of ecclesial existence.
· Just as a rainbow cannot be formed by one color, the whole nature of God cannot be expressed by a single religion.
· We call upon the Asian churches to form and nurture our distinct Christian identity in ways that do not repeat the mistakes of our past practices of mission and evangelism, by being the guests of our religious neighbors as well, shedding our assumption of superiority and being humble learners of their rich spiritual treasures as gifts of God's gracious hospitality.
Peace and Conflict Resolution
- Peace building and conflict resolution skills have become necessary skills for today, which the church in Asia can provide. Asian Christians can radically embrace the prophetic tradition and courageously take up the role of facilitators for peace in conflict-zones in Asia such as North/South Korea and Pakistan/India.
- Continued dialogue engaged with respectful recognition of the others (ethnic, religious, caste, class, gender) need to be funded and pursued persistently.
- Critical re-reading of the Bible is necessary to ground the Asian Christians' affirmation of a just and holistic society.
· Asian churches should publicly oppose and seek alternatives to the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons and power plants, especially after the exposure of the catastrophic damage to nature and human life in the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
· Asian Christians should become aware of the collusion of government, business and the nuclear industry to hide the truth of the real dangers and costs of use of nuclear power.
· Churches in Asia should take responsibility to work for ecological justice by participating in people's movements (e.g. fisherfolk, farmers, etc) and give attention to the peoples of Oceania who are in danger of becoming climate refugees due to the drastic impacts of global warming.
· Seminaries in Asia need to include courses in environmental theology and ecological justice in the required curriculum with field exposure as a vital component in order to equip churches with leaders who understand the responsibility of humans as part of the web of creation.
- Asian churches need to acknowledge the existence of diverse sexual orientations [gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender] among their people and be open to include them in their fellowship.
- Violence against women and sexual minorities need to be addressed as urgent challenge to Asian churches; violence in all forms, e.g., domestic violence, sexual trafficking, rape, sexual harassment etc strikes at the root of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which requires/affirms respect and dignity of all humanity.
- The leaders and authorities of the institutionalised churches should make deliberate efforts to include women in all forms of ministry.
- There is a need to organise a data base of women theologians who can be resources for programmes.
our sisters and brothers in Christ to consider our recommendations above and find ways
together to make them concrete and translate them into action in order to witness to God's hospitality.
that Korea, the host country, remains divided between North and South. We particularly
wish that the efforts for re-unification will bear fruits and would like to encourage fellow
Christians and others in Korea and in the world in such efforts.
as a Congress the host for the wonderful hospitality during the meeting shown especially
by local Korean churches and congregations, as well as by the faculty, staff and students of the Methodist Theological University. Theirs was the setting and nourishment for our reflections and conversations.
The hospitality of the Triune God, which we are to embrace and to embody, is the supreme expression of self-emptying and self-giving, as manifest in the incarnation, ministry, cross, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our message of hospitality, which we declare here and carry with us as we journey back to our many nations and churches, is one of courageous vulnerability and faithful gift of ourselves to our neighbors and to one another.
July 5, 2012
Seoul , Korea